(Washington, D.C.) August 1, 2013 — On the third anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the United States Campaign to Ban Cluster Bombs joins Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Patrick Leahy, and Rep. James McGovern in calling for the U.S. to review its existing cluster munitions policy and to take immediate steps toward joining the Convention.
“Every year cluster bombs kill and maim hundreds of innocent men, women, and children,” said Zach Hudson, coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Cluster Bombs. “The Convention on Cluster Bombs is saving lives every day as more and more states join and promise to never again use these devastating weapons. We echo this call for the United States to take these first steps towards joining the treaty.”
In a letter to President Obama dated July 17, Feinstein, Leahy, and McGovern urged the Pentagon to stop using cluster munitions immediately and requested a review of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) current policy on cluster munitions. They wrote, “Cluster munitions are indiscriminate, unreliable and pose an unacceptable danger to U.S. forces and civilians alike. The U.S. government’s cluster munitions policy is outdated and should be immediately reviewed.”
They further explained, “While we continue to advocate for the current congressional restrictions on the export of cluster munitions, we firmly believe that we must do more. DOD should immediately renounce its use of cluster munitions with submunitions that have a failure rate of greater than one percent. That would be an important step in putting the United States on a path to join the international Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).”
Campaigners in the United States also issued a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Aug. 1, urging U.S. participation as an observer at the Fourth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention. The meeting will take place in Lusaka, Zambia, from September 9-13, 2013.
“U.S. attendance at the conference would demonstrate to the many nations impacted by cluster bombs that the U.S. is committed to ending the tragic legacy of these weapons,” said Hudson. “It’s time for the United States to assume a leadership role, join the conversation, and take significant action.”
The Convention on Cluster Munitions comprehensively bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and places obligations on countries to clear affected areas, assist victims, and destroy stockpiles. To date, 112 states have joined the treaty, including most of the U.S.’s closest allies; 18 NATO countries have signed, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
The DOD’s policy on cluster munitions was issued in July 2008, and states that by the end of 2018, the U.S. will no longer use cluster munitions with a failure rate higher than one percent. Only a miniscule percentage of the U.S. stockpile meets that standard.
In February 2013, Feinstein also re-introduced the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act (S. 419) in the Senate, and McGovern re-introduced a companion bill (H.R. 881) in the House. The bill immediately prohibits U.S. funds from being appropriated for the development or use of cluster munitions with a failure rate of greater than one percent and mandates that cluster munitions can only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians.
For more information, visit www.uscbl.org.
About cluster bombs:
A cluster munition (or cluster bomb) is a weapon containing multiple often hundreds of small explosive submunitions or bomblets. Cluster munitions are dropped from the air or fired from the ground and designed to break open in midair, releasing the submunitions over an area that can be the size of several football fields. This means they cannot discriminate between civilians and soldiers. Many of the submunitions fail to explode on impact and remain a threat to lives and livelihoods for decades after a conflict.
About the USCBL:
The USCBL, currently coordinated by Handicap International, is a coalition of thousands of people and U.S. non-governmental organizations working to: (1) ensure no U.S. use, production, or transfer of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions; (2) encourage the U.S. to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions; and (3) secure high levels of U.S. government support for clearance and assistance programs for victims of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war.
The USCBL is the U.S. affiliate of the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC). Cluster bombs (cluster munitions) are large weapons which are deployed from the air by aircraft including fighters, bombers and helicopters. These bombs open in mid-air and release dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions.
About the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC):
The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is an international coalition of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working in around 100 countries to eradicate cluster munitions, prevent further causalities from these weapons and put an end for all time to the suffering they cause. The CMC works to change the policy and practice of governments and organisations towards these aims and raise awareness of the problem amongst the public.